While Interfax has communicated that the Kremlin is making preparations for the visit, the Office of the President had not received formal confirmation by yesterday evening. “There is no formal reply. There is still time, let us stay calm,” the president’s PR chief Taavi Linnamäe said.
Topics for the meeting largely remain a matter of speculation, but Taavi Linnamäe said the president’s willingness to shed light on them is not the issue here. “I believe that it is a little premature to comment on the topics of the meeting in a situation where we have no certainty it will even take place,” Linnamäe said, pointing to lack of a formal reply.
Linnamäe eventually said that should the meeting go ahead, topics will include mutual relations and international developments important for Estonia.
“International security architecture, aggression in Ukraine and the partial occupation of Georgia,” Linnamäe listed and added that the president will stick to the values and foreign policy course Estonia has maintained for nearly 30 years now.
Experts criticize secrecy
Chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the outgoing parliament Marko Mihkelson criticized the veil of secrecy surrounding the meeting. “The visit is shrouded in more mystery than it should be,” Mihkelson said. He added that a presidential visit is not just popping next door but would require thorough diplomatic and political preparation, considering the low tide in Estonia-Russia relations. “If there has been one, the foreign affairs committee has been left out of the loop entirely,” Mihkelson said.
The politician believes Kaljulaid should explain how she perceives Estonia-Russia relations at this time and what she would like to discuss with Putin. “Society deserves opens cards in this matter,” he said.
Foreign policy expert Karmo Tüür is also critical of the president for withholding information. “The Office of the President has created uncertainty out of thin air. There is an information vacuum that should be filled post haste, before someone else gets to fill it with rumors or malicious information,” Tüür explained.
The expert said that those who want something must be willing to offer something in return. “I have no idea what it is we could want, whether it’s the border agreement or President Konstantin Päts’ medal. But what would we offer? I don’t know,” he reasoned. “Russia, that Estonia and the West are not exactly on good terms with – one needs a very good reason to go there. And it goes against common policy we have agreed on.”